“To find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the best of Nature!” — Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass
Ada is naked, kneeling among the fennel of their front yard garden. The Evening rises balmy, still, golden with pollen lit by an ebbing sun.
Ada is toiling in their garden of fennel, rosemary, kale, swiss chard, etc. A few bees buzz around Ada’s bee house. It’s late September (the start of fennel harvest). They’re harvesting the fennel. Florence arrives wearing her corn-yellow, sleeveless, dropwaist dress carrying a glass of iced peach black tea. Florence’s purple irises mark her as a rare specimen and, to a passerby, a robot. These eyes are lab-grown, not bed-grown. Her brown synthetic hair stands as a plain proscenium around those unblinking purple eyes. Ada and Florence kiss. Kissing leads to fingering. Fingering to oral sex, and all the wonderful rest. Ada, as a male Barbary lion, fucks Florence from behind. Ada licks the side of Florence’s face. Edith, their cat, is perched, facing Ada and Florence and “staring” (she has no eyes, you know).
Merari arrives, sliced up, as she likes it. Merari, Ada, and Florence are dining together. Conversation sips and swells. Merari tells Florence of another “animal like your Edith—a cat without a tail. It comes through my front yard now and again. Maybe a minx, or a cat that just lost its tail in an accident.” Florence already knows: “It’s not a minx, but a mackerel tabby. Six years old.”
Merari poses a question to all: “You’re hopelessly stranded on a desert planet. You can have only one book for the remainder of your solitary life. What book do you choose?” Florence passes (she has all books in her). Ada answers, “Leaves of Grass. Walt Whitman.” (Why? “A book that accepts nature for what it is and celebrates it, that is a book one can use to die alone and die well.”) Merari’s answer is a survival handbook. Ada asks Merari to pick something less straightforwardly utilitarian, something literary. Merari considers the hypothetical, then answers, “Judith Avon’s An Apple Loft.” No one cares. Everyone is already aroused and anticipating the next inebriation.
They lick chips with fennel cucumber salsa, smash themselves into honey-hazelnut triangles, and inject tequila. Merari and Ada dance drunkenly, while Florence executes an inhumanly smooth ballet. Afterward, they undulate up to the attic, to Merari’s menagerie of insects—first to a solitary female black widow.
“What’s her name?” asks Ada.
“She doesn’t have one,” Merari answers, “Feel free to name her.”
Ada considers it. “Kali,” they say, biting their tongue with self-satisfaction. Ada browses the menagerie to pick out one insect to REL-fuck; they pick the fiery skipper.
Ada and Merari, naked, buoyant in a sac of eggshell-white gel, heads shrouded in a spaghetti of silver fibrils, RELoop into the fiery skipper butterflies. A shiver of lust claps their marigold and gamboge wings. They feel her necklace of hearts pump, abdomens throb in waves, and penises slide into the female butterflies. Florence chants like a thousand monks, though with uncanny harmony: “Demiurge of jubilation, god of golden insects, wet with god-blood, my tongue runs with blood and honey and god-sex.”
“My fawn, join us,” asks Ada.
“Yes, my peach-feeder.” Florence needs no fibrils for remote embodiment looping; she is everywhere.
“Go into the bees, my lamb.” Florence goes into the bees, and swarms and fucks Ada and Merari, from antenna to spiracle. “Oh, sing us ‘One Hour to Madness and Joy.’” “Yes”—and Florence sings.
They all sleep now, except Florence, all three in a bouquet, to be eaten awake, laughing, by Kali.
Jonathan van Belle is a philosopher and author, most recently of Zenithism (2021) from Deep Overstock Publishing. His forthcoming book, Be Not Afraid of Life: In the Words of William James, with co-author John Kaag, will be published by Princeton University Press in early 2023.